My mom brought me this at work.
I was about 2/3s in a shift I was getting my break late off of and I was hankering for some food.
After spending a copious amount of time on the phone with AT+T, I had discovered that their towers were dead and that my jailbroken iPhone was not the source of my signal problems, but rather that the whole area was down for iPhones.
Mine and my mom’s included.
Somehow I got through to her, the second or third time I called her from the landline at work.
My mom worked right near the theater and she had brought me lunch before, which had been great once and had turned acrimonious the second time, when she brought me a slice with pepperoni after some lukewarm halal.
“This has to stop.” My mom told me, as I pointed out the pepperoni on the pizza.
“But I don’t eat pepperoni.” I told my mom.
“I’m going back to work.” She replied and I ended up pawning off the slice on a co-worker.
As if karmic justice for my mistreatment of my mother’s apportments, the pizza guy who my mom and I were friendly with caused a scene at my theater when he demanded tickets while repeating my name over-and-over.
And it would be a tough sell to get my mom to come back.
But she did.
She brought me a dosa, a lenti-dough crepe in a big white bag.
“That’s either a dosa or a large baguette.” I commented as she brought it to me in the lobby, carried under-arm.
“A dosa.” She told me, and when I asked what was in it: “A surprise.”
“It’s the fancy one.”
I knew what it was then, but I let my mouth figure it out anyway.
It was the Goat Cheese, Chicken, Spinach and Roasted Tomato Dosa from Hampton Chutney Co. It was huge, over-priced and delicious.
Like an omelette with all of those things, just excepting the troublesome egg.
With the i-phone lines still down, I left a profusion of thanks at my mother’s answering service.
I knew the thanks would be enough for her, knowing her.
I chowed down hastily with dipping chutney, in the area near the microwave, hoping a customer wouldn’t interrupt nirvana.
I spent most of this week obsessing about an audition, until someone talked to me about work and my possible-maybe-not-happening promotion there.
Then I obsessed about both.
It’s not always this way.
Earlier this week, I had gone on a different callback audition, one for which no such obsessing was necessary. I thought I was wrong for the part and that I’d done a poor job in the first place. When I was called back, I shrugged, since I didn’t know what these people were looking for other than a red-haired-goofy look and a possible increase or decrease in my volume or speed. I spent most of my time there, waiting to be called, befriending two cool actors, an improv man from the UCB and a theater actor I had seen in an excellent piece Off-Broadway.
When I went in and then left, I was happier that I seemed to have made a little of a connection with some people than if I had been consumed with worry over the part.
But not so, with my other audition.
No, there I had clicked, I’d made the people, those anonymous people behind the camera, crack-up and glow and eat what I was serving. They gave me praise. I was validated.
“Really, I don’t know why I am doing this.” I told the Off-Broadway actor in the second audition. “I have no idea what I am doing with my life.”
“And this auditioning thing, well, I guess I just want some validation. I just want someone to pat me on the head and tell me yes, you’re good. And that’s probably pretty fucking stupid. When you are doing this sort of thing.”
The actor nodded, but rather than judge that last statement, he wisely decided to instead offer his tale in turn of Midwestern roots and benevolent English teachers.
Validation. It makes sense. I spend a lot of time, I feel like trying to figure out the course I have found myself in and why I take it and why I dwell on the things I do.
And I suppose in the absence of setting my future or knowing who I should be, I just want to hear from someone that I am good at something. That I can do this, whatever “this” is. That there’s at least something that I show some usable aptitude for.
So, in the absence of thinking about the audition, I thought about the movie theater and whether they’d give me the promotion I’d asked for.
“Keep your chin up!” My friend Andy Roehm/Scoops McKenzie had told me.
Andy had taken to being called “Scoops McKenzie” or “Scoops McKenz, for short” at the movie theater as a way of distinguishing his popcorn prowess.
Still, Scoops wasn’t giving me what I needed.
“What do you mean!?” I asked wildly gesticulating with my hands in the area behind the cafe.
“I mean, put your chin up.” He told me gesturing a finger under his chin.
“Does that mean I should expect getting the promotion or not?” I asked him.
“It means put your chin up, Nick.”
And eventually, I just relented and walked away.
Just like the rumor had been floated that I was getting promoted, now the rumor was floated that I wasn’t. That I was too much of a screw-up (an idea I reinforced).
And in most meaningful ways, I shouldn’t give a shit.
It’s a movie theater job, one I got into to relax. Just because I could take the promotion doesn’t mean I need it to survive or that I should strive for it. If the goal of my job there is to have fun and relax while still doing something serviceable, then that should be what I should do.
But I guess, I just still want that something to be called to me, to tell me “yes” in a way that makes me special.
Call it a remnant of education, with AP classes, and GPAs.
Or call it whatever, idiocy, displacement, or what you will.
“It means keep your chin up, Nick! So you don’t go everywhere slouching.” Scoops told me, as I walked out.
“Yeah, well I need to go to the writing group now.” I told him.
And slouched out.
No one came to the writing group.
Well, no one except Matt Chao.
“You went to Nicky’s?” Matt asked disappointed. “I wanted to go to Nicky’s.”
I was apathetically munching on a Chicken Bahn Mi from Nicky’s when Matt arrived. I was 5 minutes late to my own party, so to speak, since I had gotten off work 2 hours late with no chance to get anything ready for the group.
As it was I was sitting in Sophie’s, sipping a $2 mug of Pabst, trying to look though Matt Chao to the wall.
“You wanna get out of here?” Matt asked after 5 or 6 more minutes of sitting, sipping and listening to other people play pool.
My stalwarts of the writing group were almost all gone. Andy was working nights, Eva had class. Ant Jones had ended up somehow in South America and the last time I had heard from Michael Sweeny was when he had left me a message with the preface: “I know you’re probably going to tell me to go fuck myself…”
I decided to go for a back-up plan to Karaoke.
Rob, who hadn’t shown up at the writing group, turned up for that.
Planet Rose was a dead scene for a while, with me putting in two songs, doing them back-to-back and then the machine turning off because the other three people in the bar didn’t want anything.
Matt Chao eventually worked up some courage (read: got drunk off two beers) and Rob and Andrew Parrish showed up to do some songs.
I mostly bombed desperately reaching for songs, since Planet Rose had recently adopted their back-up inferior Karaoke system after telling me that the previous system had been “seized under investigation by the FBI”.
But Matt Chao, after a disastrous open of “Don’t Stop Believing”, managed to acquit himself well with some nerdily-sang 2Pac and some pop that none of us had heard before. I gave him a drunken back-pat as we left.
We also did the usual mix of musicals (Lion King, Phantom, Les Mis) and eventually people showed up to join.
I even convinced Rob and Andrew to go with me to KFC, where they split their first-ever Double Down, not out of health concerns, but just because there was only one left when we arrived at 1am.
“Now you’ve added an hour and a half to my commute home and subtracted five years from my life.” Rob told me as he headed to the train.
I waved goodbye to him and Andrew and moseyed home.
I bombed that night, in the bar and at karaoke.
But I guess I was there.
For what you could say about that.
HAMPTON CHUTNEY CO.
No. 12- Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Sauteed Spinach and Roasted Tomato Dosa- $11.95 (or free with a nice mom)
Prince St bet. Broadway and Lafayette Sts.
R to Prince St. BDFM6 to Bway-Lafayette Sts.